I'll skip the preamble and tell you about this new direction. We've decided to close the doors to Gather at the end of the year.
Okay...deep breath...that was harder to write than I thought it would be.
First, we are not going out of business. Let me say that again so I get your attention: WE ARE NOT GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. We're just finding a new way to do business. There were a lot of reasons to have a storefront when I first opened Gather almost a year and a half ago (I can't believe it's been that long). Honestly, most of those reasons no longer apply.
The biggest reason I decided to close the doors now is because things are going relatively well. I know that sounds so ridiculous, but listen to my logic. We have no debt. We are normally able to keep a store full of inventory. I always have requests for custom paint jobs, and a long list of items people are hoping I will find. I never wanted to get to a point with the store where we were struggling to stay afloat, find business, or find product. This store isn't like your typical retail store - I can't call up a distributor and ask for more product. I have to go find the product, hope I'm able to buy the product, fix the product, clean the product, possibly repaint the product, and price the product. Then cross my fingers that it sells quickly.
So, while this sounds like a good situation to be in (and it is, believe me, I know how lucky we are!), it is a LOT of work. A lot. More than I ever knew I was taking on. I sort of jumped into this with both feet, hoping I would someday be able to quit my full-time job, and make Gather my full-time job.
I want this to continue to be fun. Gather hasn't really ever felt like a "job" to me, possibly because I love it so much. I know if I continue on at this pace, I won't always love it. That's something I won't allow to happen, so I'm choosing to make this decision now, rather than being forced to down the road.
What does this mean for our customers? Well, first off, I hope you'll come see us while we're still open! We will be participating in the Rural Route Rust Sale at Bloom Where You're Planted on November 2nd & 3rd. If we have enough inventory, we'll be open again one more time in November. If not, that will be the last time you can see us this year. In 2014, I'll be looking for markets to participate in around the area...I visit a lot of them, and there are a lot of great ones I'd love to be a part of. I have a few in mind that have asked me to participate in the past, so I'm hoping to say yes to them this year.
We'll also still be around in social media form. I'll keep the Gather Facebook page, and I'll still post finds on our Instagram feed (along with lots of other parts of my life), and inspiration on my Pinterest boards. Those are the best ways to keep up with what we're doing and where we'll be. Chances are, I'll also start some sort of mailing list so I can keep our customers informed about upcoming events.
Where can you shop for vintage finds? If you ever need a recommendation, just let me know. I have a pretty good idea of some awesome shops and sellers in the Western Iowa/Eastern Nebraska area. Here are a few of my favorites:
Bloom Where You're Planted (Avoca)
Carole's Flowers, Gifts & Vintages Finds (Weeping Water)
Simply Bungalow (Lincoln)
The Whistle Stop (Elkhorn)
And a few of my favorite events:
Junkstock (April & October, in Omaha)
Rural Route Rust (April & November, in Avoca, Nebraska)
Shopkeeper & Friends (June & October, in Elkhorn, Nebraska)
Junk Jubilee (April, June & November, in Lincoln & Des Moines)
Spring & Autumn Markets at Simply Bungalow (in Lincoln)
Dirt Road Rust & Dust Days at HomeGrown Junk (in Missouri Valley, Iowa)
Finally, a note to you: Whoever you are, however you found me, I want to thank you. Even if you've never been to the shop, commented on a post, or participated in a Facebook discussion, you made your way here somehow, and I truly appreciate that. I've been blessed in my short time as a shopkeeper to meet so many amazing people and form friendships based on a love of junk. Almost every interaction I've had with my customers, vendors, and folks in the community has been positive. The ones that have not been so positive...well, that's a learning experience for me and honestly, I'm glad to have that part of this business behind me.
I've also been truly blessed to have the support of my friends and family. I know these last 18 months have been a little challenging for all of us. I haven't been at my best because I've been so focused on the shop, and closing our doors is an effort to change all that. I've never for a second forgotten how amazing it is to have the support of people who love me...especially my best friend and husband, Mike.
I hope you find other stores that make you want to go back again and again. I hope you avoid those who only care about making a quick dollar and don't really care about their customers. I hope you find junk that inspires you and makes you fall in love. Gather has been all those things for me...my home away from home, my dream come true, my inspiration, and my creative outlet.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you want to be added to our mailing list. Thanks again for being part of this journey with me!